Tag Archives: homelessness


While many dads all over the country are looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, for Murray, today will be yet another reminder of what he doesn’t have: time with his daughter. Murray’s daughter was about a year old when the relationship between him and his partner dissolved. They had had a good, happy relationship, but financial troubles and irreparable issues slowly eroded what once had been love. Murray came home one day to his things packed up in boxes, and he was asked to leave. He found shelter with his parents for some time but that wasn’t a long-term solution. Murray reached a low point and finally decided to move the Niagara Falls Men’s Shelter run by the YW.

“When I do see her, she is shy and timid, like you would be with a stranger.”

Since then, he has seen his daughter once. She is almost three now. He keeps toys for her in his tidy shelter unit, but he doubts that she will ever get to play with them. “When I do see her, she is shy and timid, like you would be with a stranger. She shouldn’t have that with her own father,” he says, angry, disappointed. Murray and his daughter’s mom turned their lives around when they found out they were having a child. “We got off the drugs; we got clean together – it woke me up. She was a blessing.”

Today, almost three years later, he feels like a babysitter who only gets to see his daughter on rare occasions. “She’s a good mom, and I realize I still have things in my life to clean up, but I just want to see my daughter. Even just for a couple of hours a week; that is all I am asking for.” Going through the court system is simply not an option for Murray at this point and by the time it will be, it might be too late. “A daughter or a son need their father as much as their mother.”

His biggest worry is that by not being around her, he can’t teach her the many things that he has learned.

Murray knows that he has made mistakes in his life. “I was young; I was stupid,” but he is doing everything he can to get back on his own two feet:  he is trying to find secure housing, he is trying to find a job – and try is all he can do. The same goes for his daughter. He will not stop fighting for her and he won’t stop trying to be the dad his daughter’s mother needs him to be in order to let him see his child. His biggest worry is that by not being around her he can’t teach her the many things that he has learned. Murray is homeless. He has fought the excruciating battle that is substance addiction but here he is: 27 years old, sober and determined to get his life back. There are lessons he has to pass on, values that go beyond materialism, things he believes in, beliefs that have helped him to keep going and to never give up.

When he talks about the few memories that he has been able to share wiMurrayth her, a big smile washes over his face. “On my mom’s street, there is an owl that sits on a fence and as soon as we turn onto the street, she says to me: let’s go, see the owl, daddy! It’s moments like that, just getting to spend time with her, just hearing her say daddy, that are my favourite memories.”

No Fixed Address – A Humbling Ride

Well, what do I say about my first time being involved with No Fixed Address? When I came on as a summer student, I had no idea what I was really in for. I had done research into the YWCA and their signaturKids playing in lote event of course, before beginning, but nothing can really prepare you for actually living it.

Coming into work every day at one of the shelters the YW runs grounded me from day one.

Every morning I walk past the ladies standing outside, talking together and starting their day. I say good morning and smile, stop and chat if they show an interest, before heading up to the loft to start the day. Through the social media management, the meetings, the donor relations, the planning and running around, I always have these ladies in the back of my mind.Niagara Roller Girls Chalk drawing
The day of NFA brought them screaming to the front.

When the sky opened up and soaked me through, I thought of them, and wondered how many had been caught in weather with nowhere to go. Those moments when I felt a little lost because I was aimless, I thought of them and wondered what it must feel like to not belong anywhere. Finally, when it came time to sleep in my car I thought of them.
With the windows open, and loud people around me; with no sense of privacy or personal space, with cramps in my back I thought of them. Then I cried. I sat there in the front seat trying to get comfortable and thought of these women I talk to every day, and the journey that brought them to us.

Please don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun throughout the day. I made new friends, laughed, and danced (badly). I enjoyed the games and the feeling of working together to make a difference. I will absolutely be back next year to help in any way I can.

Ultimately though, this amazing experience humbled me, and I am just so grateful for it.
on stage amount raised

Living Wage

Written by Carli Taylor

I often dream about how relieving it would be to receive my telephone or hydro bill and be able to immediately log into my bank account and make that payment— instead of having to wait for my next paycheck.

And this is coming from someone who works full time and has a husband who works full time.

My husband earns a decent salary and carries the lions’ share of our expenses. While I may earn above minimum wage, it certainly doesn’t stretch very far—but as I’m often told, such is the life for those working in the social services sector. That’s my cross to bear (and unfortunately my husband’s too).

I consider us pretty lucky though. We own a beautiful home. Drive nice vehicles. We eat pretty well and can afford our insurance and monthly bills. We can afford some evenings out for some stress/work relief. However, at the end of the month, there is little to nothing left over for saving for the future. This is a constant worry for us—and we are among the lucky ones.
Throughout the Niagara Region homelessness and poverty continue to reach epidemic levels. Too many families are struggling just to get by. They work hard, but with ever increasing basic living expenses—groceries (not just food, nutritious food!), utilities, clothing, transportation, health care, childcare and hopefully education never mind the uncertainties we all face such as illness, caring for elderly parents and saving for retirement and the likelihood that you have debt to repay—How are we supposed to keep up?

In fact— over 1.6 million Canadian households (1 in 8 families) struggle to put enough food on the table every day and over 12% of Canadian households are in core housing need. There are over 5700 families in the Niagara Region alone that are currently on the Niagara Regional Housing affordable housing waiting list.

Everyone who works in this country earns at least a minimum wage- a legislated minimum amount that employers must pay. This wage does not reflect rising costs of basic needs or basic quality of life. And this is why those who earn only the minimum wage are considered the working poor.

This is why the call for a Living Wage has begun to be heard around the world, and now specifically in Ontario and other areas of Canada.

A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered to be basic. It’s the possibility of an hourly wage that affords a person to pay their expenses and help lift themselves out of poverty. It’s a wage that would reflect the cost of living in a specific region and would differ from city to city.

The idea of a living wage is not to suddenly afford a person to run out and purchase a home or pay off credit or student debt— it’s only meant to ensure basic living expenses can be met. And while there are many factors and agreements to be made regarding what would actually define basic needs, I truly believe this is a necessity in our community. During our last No Fixed Address event the YWCA was actively asking members of the community to sign the petition to call upon all candidates and parties running for municipal and regional councils in 2014 to commit, that if elected, to initiate a study to cost and consider the implications of a living wage policy in our community. The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network recently reported that the living wage for Niagara is currently being calculated.

There are many arguments for and against this idea, all of them to be considered before
something of this kind of impact can be put into place. But I think it’s only fair to the thousands of working poor in our community to give them a chance— a chance at eventually rising out of poverty and in turn giving them an opportunity to change the cycle of poverty. As I for one know, I would still be considered the working poor had I not married the man I did—even though I earn above minimum wage.

For more information on what the Niagara Region is doing about poverty please visit http://www.wipeoutpoverty.ca/ and for more information on the living wage policy please go to http://livingwagecanada.ca/

Housing First

“Home is where the heart is.”

“If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.”

“Home is where one starts from.”

HOME. It has got to be one of the most wonderful words in our vocabulary. The thought of home makes most of us feel good and happy and warm and fuzzy. My home, my comfort.
Here at the YW, we rarely use the word on its own. We talk about homelessness, people who do not have a home and people who are waiting for an affordable home. In Niagara, that is an estimated 11,035 people by the way.

Picture a full Meridian Centre – every seat taken. Now picture it twice.
That is how many people we are talking about here.

To change those stats, the Region launched A HOME FOR ALL, Niagara’s Housing and Homelessness Action Plan in 2013. A key element of this ten-year plan is to promote and implement the “Housing First” principle. The idea is to place homeless individuals and families directly into permanent housing, which is a slightlysupport decrase, independence increase different approach from the one we use for our other transitional housing programs. To go through the stages of transitional housing means a continual increase of independence while the staff support is slowly being decreased from stage to stage. This program aims to support those women and families, who have for one reason or another hit bottom and quite simply need some time and help to get back on their feet.

The Housing First model is aimed at supporting women like Hannah. When Hannah first came to the YW, she struggled with homelessness chronically. Most of the women and families who come to our doors have just hit a rough patch, but when we talk about chronic homelessness, we mean individuals who face challenges such as addictions or severe mental illness. Because of her addiction, there were a lot of services that Hannah was not able to access. She simply did not know who to turn to.

“The Housing First approach improves the lives of those who are homeless and have a mental illness. It makes better use of public dollars – especially for those who are high users of health care and social service resources.” – MHCC

Thanks to funding through the Region of Niagara, the YW has five Housing First units and we were able to provide Hannah with a home. From there, our Housing First worker was able to help Hannah redefine who she is. She connected with a physician, established her sobriety and with people around her who cared, she flourished, and her confidence returned.
Research by the Mental Health Commission of Canada shows that it is the best solution for the chronically homeless to provide access to safe, permanent housing first and to then offer recovery-oriented services: “The Housing First approach improves the lives of those who are homeless and have a mental illness. It makes better use of public dollars – especially for those who are high users of health care and social service resources.”

The YW has five permanent housing units that have been in use since April 2015. It is a hugely successful program and another great resource for people who struggle with homelessness in our region. It is their chance to finally have a home again.
Because home is “where one starts from”.


Question of the Month – Privilege

We had a really great and thought provoking bloggers meeting for August. We were talking about homelessness and poverty, and how hard it is for some people to understand and grasp why this happens to people. We also discussed how anyone can suddenly find themselves laid off, struggling to pay the bills, and ultimately, homeless. This lead us to our August theme of privilege. What is privilege and how does it impact homelessness and poverty? These are hard questions to answer and opinions differ from person to person.

Our question of the month for our bloggers is: “What does privilege mean to you?” and Marilyn and Ellen have shared their answers with us.



The word “privilege” means many different things to me. But the first thought that comes to mind, is that privilege is usually reserved for Very Important People. VIP usually descends from wealthy families that make sure their legacy lives on, in style. A lot of VIP is born into a world of extravagance and connections with other VIP. They grow up with  a feeling of entitlement because they’ve lived in a world of luxury or prominence. They live in a world where having everything is normal, not a miracle. They are guaranteed a life of security and high-placed positions in society while still in the womb. It’s a world of excess and good times. It’s a world where money is the answer to every problem. Sometimes regular working-class people are given privileges by VIP because they have curried their favour somehow. If you are a good, loyal worker sometimes VIP will bestow gifts or perks upon their employees as a token of their appreciation. Privilege to me means never having to count out change to buy milk for your kids. Privilege to me means always having more than enough to make it in this world. It means having all the advantages in life that this world has to offer.


I know I’m getting all “pop culture” here, but did anybody follow the Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift Twitter exchange a few weeks ago? It started when Minaj noted that the MTV Video Music Awards nominations video of the year didn’t include her video Anaconda but perhaps would have if Minaj were a different “kind” of artist. What she meant is that her video celebrates “thicker” bodies, black bodies, and an overt female sexuality—and giving that a nod would play with the established standards of what is acceptable, lovely, and therefore “normal”. The tweet wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular (beyond those who enforce and reward normative standards), but Minaj’s friend and fellow musician, Taylor Swift, whose video Bad Blood was nominated, took it as a personal insult. Swift tweeted: “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.” Minaj was taken aback, but responded thusly: “Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn’t say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this.” The “u should speak on this” is an equivalent to “check your privilege.” In turn, Swift responded, in a sweet (if unknowingly condescending manner): “If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.” This is where Swift missed the boat, because she didn’t see her privilege and particularly didn’t see it fitting her systematically.

To me, this pop culture exchange, carried out on the public gossip arena of social media, is a perfect example of how privilege is intersectional but yet too often, that intersectionality is contested or ignored (as in it is a personal issue and not a systemic or societal issue). Swift is a young, talented, successful, wealthy, white, heterosexual musician. As a woman, she has had to work hard to earn respect in her industry. She understands that sexism and oppression affect her directly. What she doesn’t get is that in other areas of her life, she sits in a place of great privilege and her privileges (white, heterosexual, wealthy, etc.) trump others. It may not trump male privilege, but it does give her power. For the most part, she uses that power to support other women. So yeah, good for her. But the internalized domination is still there. When you assume others share your reality, you act as if your perspective is universal. It makes it difficult to see what someone who does not share your reality sees (or not entirely anyway, Minaj for example, is talented, wealthy successful, heterosexual, and black—her race lens is going to be different than Swift’s). Minaj is rejecting the internalized oppression of pop culture and society that says thin white bodies are lovely and should be seen and admired in music videos. And she’s asking Swift, who like her, has economic privilege and the ability to say what she wants without being sanctioned, to speak to this—to say there is room for more than one or two standards in video awards nominations. For Swift, like most of us, it is easier to notice the oppression she has personally experienced (“maybe one of the men took your slot”) than the privileges she experiences. Often, those privileges are not recognized as such and are attributed to “hard work”, or talent and perseverance alone.

It is hard to acknowledge privilege. In my own life, I can recognize many of my privileges but it is difficult to see how they shift and how my history plays into a system that isn’t quite monolithic. That’s where intersectionality comes in. I’m a woman. But I am more than that. I am white, heterosexual, gender conforming, and able bodied. I grew up within (and ultimately rejected) an all-encompassing religious structure. That too influences and plays with my privilege. I’m not poor, although I have at various times in my life, struggled with income variances, and this has given me palpable understanding of the fear and anxiety of an insufficient income. I am healthy both physically and mentally but I am aware that these are variables that can and do change privilege—and quickly. I’ve never been a target of racism. I can go out in the street and talk to a stranger and not worry about them judging my sexuality (or fear a possible violent reaction to it). My privilege—my unearned advantages in life, even those that aren’t discriminatory, are many. I hope however, they don’t entirely prevent me from trying to understand power, how I benefit from it, where I have an easier ride. The tricky part is determining what I can do to erase the systems of oppression that back privilege.


We’d like to know, what does privilege mean to YOU?

Federal Leadership Needed on Poverty

Canada is a wealthy country with a strong economy and many social support programs, yet over four million Canadians regularly struggle to make ends meet, maintain affordable and adequate housing, feed their families, and address basic needs.  In Niagara region alone, our food banks have difficulty meeting demand and over 4500 households are on the centralized wait list for affordable housing. We can and must do better.

There are many important roles for the federal government to play to help reduce poverty across Canada, as outlined on the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network website www.wipeoutpoverty.ca.  One of these roles is the creation of a national plan of action on poverty.  Despite multiple calls by the United Nations, a Senate committee, and a House of Commons committee for Canada to create a plan, one has not been developed.

Having a national plan would raise the profile of poverty, its many causes and solutions, and its stigma, amongst Canadians, as well as demonstrate that addressing it is a national priority.  Canada’s Mental Health Strategy has significantly raised awareness of mental health issues and has mobilized leadership and collaboration across the country to address stigma, discrimination, and access to services.  A national strategy on poverty has the potential to do the same.

Poverty is not solely the responsibility of any one level of government nor any single sector.  Therefore, an organized and collective effort from all levels of government and stakeholders is required to ensure progress is being made.  Poverty reduction strategies have been shown to deliver results in many of our provinces, as well as other countries, through increased communication and common understanding of the issues between all stakeholders and improved coordination of public policies and services. A national action plan on poverty would be developed in partnership with the provinces, territories and other key sectors, and include defined goals, timelines, targets, and evaluation.  Such a plan must be comprehensive in order to address all aspects of poverty, including income security, employment, housing and homelessness, health, food security, transportation, and early childhood development and care.  A model of what a national plan of action on poverty could look like is available through the Dignity for All website www.dignityforall.ca.

So what can ordinary Canadian citizens do? In the lead up to the federal election this fall, take the time to let your Member of Parliament and federal election candidates know that you support the creation of a national plan of action on poverty for Canada – send them an email, letter, phone call, or visit their office. Write a letter to the editor. Spread the message through social media. Inform your own circle of contacts of the need for a national action plan and encourage them to reach out to MPs and candidates, as well. Many of us support charities that work hard to mitigate the effects of poverty. Let’s also show support for tackling poverty’s root causes through wider public policy solutions. Learn more by visiting www.wipeoutpoverty.ca

Lori Kleinsmith, YWCA Niagara Board Member

Closer to the Heart

And the men who hold high places,  Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality,  Closer to the heart”…

Closer to the Heart; Writer(s): Geddy Lee, Peter Talbot, Neil Peart, Neval Abou Nadar, Alex Lifeson, Richard Ziegler
Copyright: Unichappell Music Inc., Core Music Publishing

Poverty and I have met.

Professionally, I have a history with the YWCA Niagara Region, providing administration support, I am the Executive Assistant, and as a member of the management team I work within our King Street emergency shelter program building.  The YWCA is the largest provider of Emergency shelter in the Niagara Region and a recognized expert among funders and community partners on the issues of poverty and homelessness.  I see poverty’s impact on women and their families every day.

Personally, a long time ago, my marriage broke down and I was faced with raising two children, on my own and at the time unemployed.  You do not know how much courage it takes a person to make that call to apply for social assistance, until you have to do it yourself.

Like some of the women and families that come to the YWCA, in poverty, I was not alone.  I was fortunate enough to have a strong supportive network of family, friends and a terrific caseworker – I know this is not always the case.  I was lucky, and leaned on them a lot during this time.

Call it fate, 18 years ago I found my way to a YWCA pre-employment program that offered co-op placements and I found myself working in the office of a local para-legal – what I thought was my new career dream job.  While there I was mentored in all things administratively by Sandy, she shared everything she knew with me and I was grateful for her taking me under her wing.   I hoped one day, I could do the same for someone.

My personal moment of truth came, when a mother with two young children came into the office – late on rent, with legal action pending to talk to my boss….I can still see the two children eating the mints set out on the little reception table like it was the first time the ate in days.  (insert sound of screeching brakes) STOP.  This is not my future line of work. 

Fate intervened when I extended a letter of congratulation to the new Executive Director of the YWCA, and my
past Employment Coach – we met for lunch and after talking, I was offered the position of front receptionist in 1995.

I remember debating on what to do, take the new job with the YW or stay in the para-legal field, until Arlee, my oldest child put it simply, do what will make you happy Mom.  If she only knew then, the power of those words.  Follow your passion, things will fall into place.

Through those first years at the YWCA, it was difficult financially.  I was still on social assistance and working a fulltime job.  I am thankful to my parents who babysat for me when the girls got home from school so I could work – I would have never been able to afford the costs of childcare for two children for after school care.

There was a moment in time back then, that when I remember feels like yesterday.  Emilee my youngest was gathering some of her favourite toys and stuffed animals and putting them in a box – so curious I asked her why – she wanted to give them to the poor children she’d heard about that stay at the YWCA – because they need toys.  I remember thinking, you are the poor children – I was grateful she didn’t realize this.  She probably still thinks I hate the idea of whales in captivity (which I do) – and not that I couldn’t swing the expense of $50.00 to send two children on a school trip to Marineland too.  So while their friends spent a day at Marineland, I bought them each a small toy and we spent the day together.

Working in a women’s organization had it’s benefits – enter a new mentor, a woman that taught me what it was like to lead quietly, through example, that you could discuss anything if it came from the heart and that as women we need to support and raise each other up – she stepped in during a difficult time in the history of the organization and she is one person that professionally I work hard to emulate – Kitty Francis.

Not only did the organization come through the difficulty stronger, so did I.  No longer on social assistance, the YWCA provided me a very modest income for which I didn’t qualify for assistance any longer – but I unfortunately lost the benefits coverage that had been provided – and my employment didn’t.  Sometimes a simple prescriptions could set you back a bit.  Two steps forward, one step back.

Again, I was lucky working for the YWCA, during a time that we ran the summer camps, which enabled me to send my children to camp at minimal to no cost at all – an experience I could never have given my children not to mention afford otherwise.  Family was important to then Executive Director, Milica Kovacevich.  She not only taught me that it was important to keep a sense of family within the organization – but was instrumental in the direction of the organization into providing emergency shelter services.

Things change quickly in the non-profit sector, and again the organization experienced financial instability – to the point of near closure, except for the efforts of a passionate board of directors and supportive community members.  Enter two ladies that stand out for me, professionally as they worked tirelessly to bring the organization back to life and in so doing helped me transition into the Executive Assistant I am today.  Nancy Iannizzi and Diane Marino taught me kind words, especially in times of trouble or self-doubt are invaluable.  I know for a fact I would not be at the YWCA, when everyone else was polishing their resumes, I stayed committed to the organization and to them – they were powerful leaders.  I knew then that I would try very hard to provide that voice of comfort and support – when I believe in someone, as they did for me.  it is important for everyone to have a calm influence within the storm – I try to emulate their example every day, sometimes successfully.  Always remember to breathe.

Over time, not only did things change quickly at work, but unexpectedly on the home front too, when I met Steve, and we became a family.  Truth be told, he supported us financially through the girls growing years – merging our incomes.  For the first time I was financially secure.

Today, I am ever so aware of even the simplest of expenses that many people take for granted are still unattainable for some – too many.  Having lived this reality, I, to this day, weigh the value of my purchases, rarely pay full price for anything, and still need to be encouraged to purchase something for myself.  I also realize that the problem of poverty and homelessness will not be solved with just money – it is so much more complex – that is why I chose to highlight the emotional support of my family, frThreegirlsA2iends and the women who were an important part of my earlier journey.  They gave me something that money alone at that time wouldn’t have – Hope.

Here at the YWCA, under the leadership of Elisabeth Zimmermann, I have learned that it is important to keep that human aspect while looking at tackling the complex issues around poverty and homelessness.  We have a team of dedicated, caring women – in all departments that in some way I am sure have been personally touched or inspired to help the women and families in our community that need – Hope.

May we all continue to work together …. to mold a new reality, closer to the heart.



NFA 2015: Past Participant Interview

Happy Thursday everyone! We are a little over a month away from next month’s NO FIXED ADDRESS 24 hour live-in-your-car-a-thon! Our big event takes place on August 14th and 15th in the Pen Centre parking lot! Our goal is to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness by having others experience what it’s like to live out of your car. Want to make a difference? Visit the NFA website to sign up, make a donation, or volunteer (www.nfaniagara.ca)!


Maybe you aren’t sure if you want to sign up just yet. Maybe you need to hear what it was like from someone who has participated in the event? Well, we reached out to past participant Christina Papetti to answer some questions about her and her family’s experience at No Fixed Address. Christina and her family have participated every year since 2012.

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Y: What first caught your attention about No Fixed Address in 2012?

C: The first time I heard about no fixed address was from my sister. She was working at the YWCA and told me about it and asked if we would do it. I’m so glad we did.

Y: Why did you choose to register as a team with your family, rather than as an individual?

C: We register every year as a family because we use this to help the homeless and it’s also bonding time for us! We do everything as a team: our signs, getting the donations, and we make it kind of like a family day. We look forward to it every year.

Y: What was your first family experience like at No Fixed Address?  What was it like trying to fit yourself and your children into one car for the night?

C: The first year was a little difficult, we weren’t very organized. We now know that it gets chilly out in the early early morning, so we bring warmer blankets and socks. I now know how much my daughter moves when she’s sleeping and how loud my son can really snore!

Y: What are some of the things that you and your children have learned from No Fixed Address?

C: I love that every year when we get home after spending the 24 hours in the car, my kids ALWAYS  say how sorry they feel for the people that have no choice but to sleep in their cars. They say how lucky they are that they only have to do it once a year and then they get to come home to THEIR beds.

Y: How has No Fixed Address changed yours and your family’s perspective on homelessness?

C: My kids see that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, and they see that some people really don’t have a choice. I think they have learned a lot. I am a very proud mother of all 3 of my kids; all 3 have done things that put me in awe. One example is how they gave up THEIR lunch money to buy a coffee and muffin for a older man who looked like he could use it. When I asked my son what he had eaten for lunch that day, his reply was “I’m good, I know I can eat when I get home.” It makes me so proud to know that my kids know that they can change the world for a person in need.

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A very special thank you to Christina and her family for their ongoing support — and to everyone involved in No Fixed Address! Make sure you sign up for NFA TODAY!

Question of the Month – Poverty

Our theme of the blog this month is homelessness and poverty. With No Fixed Address quickly approaching in August, we thought we would get the issues of poverty and homelessness out there for you to really think about, and hopefully inspire you to participate in No Fixed Address 2015! At our bloggers meeting, we decided that our posts would reflect a “think globally, act locally” standpoint. We want to explain and explore these issues on a more human level. So, for our ‘Question of the Month’, we asked:

How do homelessness and poverty impact YOU?



My parents were both poor growing up. They were the kids we donate for, the recipients of food baskets and hand-me-down clothes. They never wanted my brother and I to experience that, and spoiled us with excess. We didn’t think about others unless it was the annual Christmas food drive, and never volunteered. It certainly wasn’t what they intended, but it was the outcome.

When I became a mother myself, one of the first things I wanted my child to understand was gratitude. The issue of poverty and homelessness is one we talk about in our home regularly. We discuss, we contribute, and we don’t judge. We remember that without the good fortune of the previous generation we could have easily been the ones needing the support.


More to come!….

No Fixed Address: Behind the Scenes

Isabella Daley of Hamilton, after her inspiring speech of her experience with poverty.
The Amazing Race kicked off in “St. Catharines” – did contestants Park it or Poop it to get dressed for their job interview?
The Amazing Race moved to Grimsby where rent is the highest in Niagara – fitting that they had to decorate keys for their challenge.
Team Duck Dynasty Gone Redneck always brings the team spirit.
Could the Amazing Race contestants build a shelter out of cardboard in “Welland”?
Everyone loved our extremely talented face painter. *Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
Getting into the Zumba groove!
*Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
Kevin and Linda Bonnar enjoying a moment of relaxation during a busy day. *Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
*Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
Everyone is welcome at No Fixed Address! *Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
Our wonderful Target volunteers. *Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
Staff and No Fixed Address Committee members. *Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
Chefs Robert of Church Street Bistro and Maria from the YWCA St. Catharines.
Congratulations to our top team fundraisers – Mat Siscoe and Chrissy Sedowski!
Vinyl Flux tore up the stage for the third year in a row.
Irene Motz closes the evening with the most moving speech about her experience of homelessness.
Waking up with some morning yoga.
Congratulations to Kevin Bonnar, our top individual fundraiser with an incredible $1839.00 raised.
*Photo courtesy of Eva Derrick Photography
                Thank you to Participants, Volunteers, Committee Members and Staff – what an amazing experience.